It feels like spring lately, but it is really the dead of winter and time to plant the future fruit trees of Texas. Back at the farmstead, we have just planted four dormant little sticks that promise to blossom later in the year. All are heritage varieties, meaning they existed during Dallas’ frontier period and might have been grown by a local farmer.
We tried to choose some unusual fruits that will make visitors ask questions. We planted pomegranate, persimmon and plum. Just try to say that three times fast! We also planted a new fig tree, and that is a bit sad for us. We have had a fig tree for many years. They have a limited lifespan, and we must accept that our old friend is reaching the end. She once created so many figs that we had to practice traditional methods of food preservation to use them all up. For two years there have been no figs, and ever fewer leaves. She is pushing out little green sprouts, but we will not have our old fig tree much longer.
So we planted the baby next to her, thinking the elder might have some sage advice for the newcomer. I suspect it will be hard to explain how one can be growing in a frontier farmstead from the 1800s and yet hear a constant background noise of highway traffic. Hopefully, as she grows taller, the little one will also grow to understand the concept of being a teaching tool for city children who may not have seen a fig, much less a fig tree.
The little tree will learn to live in harmony with the noisy chickens, who have always enjoyed getting out of their fence and basking in the shade of the older tree. She may develop a healthy fear of lawn mowers and dogs playing fetch, at least until she fills out a bit. Mama will explain that the staff back at the farmstead, dressed in strange costumes, will provide water and care for the little tree, who will be expected to pay us back with future fruit production. Doubtless, Mama has heard all the questions children may ask, from “Is that an apple tree,” to “What’s a fig?” The most important thing is that the tree refrain from laughing and do her best to look quite figgy while staff members answer the children.
Wish us success with all our little fruit trees. I hope Mama fig will be with us long enough to see the little one bloom and fulfill our hopes for another 15 years of fig preserves.